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herd of cow elk at a great distance, and soon after took a shot at one, but failed to reach his mark.
“ I'm going after that herd,” he said. And as soon as the party had pitched camp, he sallied forth in one direction, while his foreman, Merrifield, took another.
As Theodore Roosevelt had supposed, the elk had gone off in a bunch, and for some distance it was easy to follow them. But further on the herd had spread out, and he had to follow with more care, for fear of getting on the wrong trail, for elk tracks ran in all directions over the mountains. These tracks are there to-day, but the elk and the bears are fast disappearing, for ruthless hunters have done their best to exterminate the game.
After passing along for several miles, Theodore Roosevelt felt he must be drawing close to the herd. Just then his rifle happened to tap on the trunk of a tree, and instantly he heard the elk moving away in new alarm. His hunting blood was now aroused, and he rushed forward with all speed, but as silently as possible. By taking a short cut, the young ranchman managed to come
up beside the running elk. They were less than twenty yards away, and had it not been for the many trees which were on every side, he would have had an excellent shot at them. As it was he brought low a fine, full-grown cow elk, and hit a bull calf in the hind leg. Later on he took up the trail of the calf and finished that also.
Of this herd the foreman also brought down two, so that for the time being the hunters had all the meat they needed. But Theodore Roosevelt was anxious to obtain some elk horns as trophies of the chase, and day after day a watch was kept for bull elk, as the hunters moved the camp from one place to another.
At last the long-looked-for opportunity arrived. Three big bulls were seen, and Roosevelt and his man went after them with all possible speed. They were on foot, and the trail led them over some soft ground, and then through a big patch of burnt timber. Here running was by no means easy, and more than once both hunters pitched headlong into the dirt and soot, until they were covered from head to foot. But Theodore Roosevelt was bound to get
the elk, and kept on until the sweat was pouring down his face and neck. Shot after shot was fired, and all three of the animals were wounded, but still they kept on bounding away.
“ One is down!” shouted Roosevelt at last. And the news proved true; the smallest of the bulls had rocked unsteadily for a few seconds and gone to earth. Then on and on after the remaining game sped the hunters, panting and sweating as before.
“The sweat streamed down in my eyes and made furrows in the sooty mud that covered my face, from having fallen full length down on the burnt earth," writes the dauntless hunter, in relating this story. “I sobbed for breath as I toiled at a shambling trot after them, as nearly done out as could well
But he did not give up; and now the elk took a turn and went downhill, with Theodore Roosevelt pitching after them, ready to drop from exhaustion, but full of that grit to win out which has since won the admiration of all who know the man. The second bull fell; and now but one remained, and this dashed into a thicket. On its heels went
the daring hunter, running the chance of having the elk turn on him as soon as cornered, in which case, had Roosevelt's rifle been empty, the struggle for life on both sides would have been a fierce one.
In the midst of the thicket the hunter had to pause, for the elk was now out of sight, and there was no telling what new course had been taken by the game. At a distance he saw a yellow body under the evergreen trees, and, taking hasty aim, fired. When he came up, he was somewhat dismayed to learn that he had not brought down the elk, but a black-tail deer instead. In the meantime, the elk got away, and it proved impossible to pick up the trail again.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned from this hunting trip, and one that all young readers should take to heart. It shows what sticking at a thing can accomplish. Mr. Roosevelt had determined to get at least a portion of that game, no matter what the labor and hardship involved. Many a hunter would have given up in disgust or despair after the first few shots were fired and it looked as if the elk were out of range and intended to keep out. But this
determined young man did not give up thus easily. Hard as was that run up hill and down, and regardless of the tumbles taken, and that he was so tired he could scarcely stand, he kept on until two elk were brought down, and it was firmly settled that the third could not be captured.
The way to accomplish anything in this life is to stick at it. Theodore Roosevelt understood this truth even when he went to college, for in the Harvard journal of which he was an editor he wrote, speaking of foot-ball practice, “ What is most necessary is that every man should realize the necessity of faithful and honest work, every afternoon.” He put "every afternoon ” in italics himself, and he meant that every football player who hoped to win in the intercollegiate foot-ball games should stick at it until he had made himself as perfect a player as possible. A victory worth gaining is worth working for, and usually the hardest-earned victories are the sweetest.